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by Susan Ingraham

February 3, 2010

Turns can make or break a great race. Walls are not there for rest, but instead should be used to maintain velocity throughout your event. All swimmers should strive to improve their turns at each practice; turns provide an opportunity for even the most elite athletes to drop time and improve efficiency.

There are numerous aspects that all contribute to a great turn, however these drills will focus specifically on developing lung capacity. The following drills are not to be used as a one day workout, but rather be incorporated throughout the month on a regular basis.


  • 6 x 75 Freestyle Swim @ :10 rest
    • Do not breathe 3 strokes before and 3 strokes after, each flip turn.


  • 6 x 50 Kick on your back @ 1:05
    • Use fins, and practice extending the number of underwater dolphin kicks performed off of each wall. Start with 4, adding 1 more each week, until you can do 12 without gasping as you reach the surface. Remember these are short, rapid movements from the waist down. Arms are straight, squeezing your ears. Hands remain in tight streamline, cutting a straight line through the water.


  • 10 x 25 Butterfly Swim @ :40
    • Streamline off each and every wall, using 4-8 dolphin kicks underwater. Remember to keep arms still; your power comes from your core, not your hands going up and down. Take the first 2 strokes of fly before you take your first breath. Keeping your head down on the initial swim strokes helps maintain body alignment. Your body is generating a lot of power off each wall; keep this momentum as you explode through your break-out.


  • Continuous 400 Swim.
    • Swim freestyle down one length of the pool, do a flip turn and complete a full breaststroke pull out. After your pull out, complete this 25 swimming breaststroke (Odd 25s will be freestyle and even 25s will be breaststroke). At the end of your 25 breaststroke use an open turn, keep your head down in the water as you reach in to touch the wall. Continue to keep your head down as you pull your knees tightly underneath you. As your feet are nearing the wall, press the head back and catch a quick breath as the back of the head enters the water. Most swimmers pick their head up as they touch the wall. Make it your goal to perform each open turn while you breathe as you leave.

The easiest way to drop time during your race is to correct the technique and improve efficiency at the wall. When your goal is to drop one second, one tenth of a second, one one-hundredth of a second or anything in between, focusing on the details will create good habits and will help you to accomplish your goals.